“Waiting for the Barbarian”

The story of ‘Waiting for the Barbarian’ is told in the first person. The text’s overarching emphasis is on colonial authorities’ barbaric actions in response to the alleged danger of aboriginal peoples’ rebellion. The text paints a graphic picture of the empire’s totalitarian control over the indigenous people. A critical examination of the novel, its setting, and background illustrates the socioeconomic and political ills of South Africa’s Apartheid period. The level of torture that the character Magistrate endured firsthand is evidence that colonial officials often pursue selfish agendas that are detrimental to the native population’s interests. The book in a way paints a grim picture of the Blacks uprising in 1970s against the predominantly Dutch controlled government in South Africa. The enormity of government-sanctioned atrocities is portrayed through the exposure of even children to torture. The book provides a fascinating scenario of how guilt of exploitation provoked the fear of protests and forced the Empire to launch torture, murder, and other forms of oppressions to instill fear among the indigenous people. In essence, the Barbarians are symbolic to the South African native and Black community that suffered in the hands of the White South African government.
The book’s first-person narrative approach helps to show the unnecessary fear of the colonialists because of the institutional discrimination and exploitation of the indigenous population. In a twist of literary paradox, the colonel Joll ordered arrest and partial torture against a fellow white, the magistrate, over his perceived sympathy towards the Black people. The theme of social exploitation is evident even from the Magistrates act of having a sexual affair with the girl he just saved. The text is informative in its creative presentation of the past socio-economic and political injustices that characterized South Africa during the Apartheid period.

“Introduction” by Ashcroft et al. provides an interesting picture of the concept of post-colonialism. The literary work emphasizes on the culture of several countries that has since been experiencing the effect of colonialists and imperialists. The book is offering a critical approach in how colonialists such as British, Spanish, Portuguese, and French imposed their culture through literature to diffuse threat of missionary influence and indigenous people’s revolt. In a tactical approach to propagate the colonialist agenda, the book explains the origin of the spread of post-colonial literature that is dominated by major colonial languages. As supported by contemporary evidence of widespread colonial culture that has established a deep root in most of the former colonies.
The book provides an interesting picture of the modern society where the economic and political models are replica of the colonialist ideology. In fact, the communities previously colonized exhibit borrowed culture through foreign literature among other social and economic issues. The word “post” features prominently from the work to emphasize the concept of time and perpetuated influence. The role of literature in diffusion of imperialists influence is widely covered in the book. The book is informative as it reconcile past, present, and hits at the unforeseen future. The post-colonial experiences are portrayed in the book to recall the subjective social ideologies during the imperialists’ era. Ashcroft’s views are a reflection of the reality in such works as the “Waiting for the Barbarians” by Coetzee. The influence of literature in post-colonial era is a manifestation of past social, economic and political injustices meted on indigenous communities. The book unveils a common ground between literature and culture in the context of post-colonial period.

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